Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Putting God Before the Money

FreeMarket Phillip & Angela decide to Marry. It's a beautiful story, their love for each other i am unsure of how long they have been together, but I have known them from the FM over one year. Deb has read the Bible to them every third Sat for that entire duration, she has been steadfast in her commitment. Over a month ago the market was quiet, Phillip & Angela were their early to help, so we had some quiet time to talk...we are getting married Phillip says...how amazing i add. Knowing that when a couple gets married their gov't benefits reduce, makes no sense to me..but it's a fact. Phillip assures me, that even after making only $23.00 per day due to support he owes, he feels confident He & Angela are doing the right thing in the eyes of God. The story was one of a kind, one I have never heard much about. I read often about poverty, and a symptom of poverty is caused by men not marrying the mothers of their children, that it is a cultural sign of weakness in the uneducated poor for men. Slowly, Phillip decides to be a good witness for his children.
The wedding was this past Sat., I arrived 5 mins late, not knowing where it was...but I wasn't late after all...the wedding coordinators had yet to arrive, the bride was dressed since 1:30, sweaty and shaky, Deb sat in her air conditioned car waiting with the cake Sherri had so generously made. The macaroni & cheese sat on a table by the pews, balloons bounced all around, the preacher read from a script with a difficulty pronouncing the words...Hmmm i think, this is different...different from my wedding. That is what God reminds me...we are all different, and that is just the way He made us...we aren't meant to do things or be the same. So just because the cake was the only thing I recognized as my normal...I am reminded that Phillip & Angela were so happy and so thrilled to be giving their lives to God and each other...that nothing else really mattered to them...and guess what, they saved about $10,000 dollars that I threw away 19 years ago, trying to make the wedding look perfect, never putting God even close to the front. I'd do it all over and have just the same wedding Angela & Phillip had today.
By the way...on the day of Phillips wedding, he announces...."I got a full time job, with benefits from the temp job I've been working at...putting together boxes!" I'm so happy for him... I was blessed to be a small part of a beautiful moment.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What to look for in a man...

I spent the day with Mohamed, a man of great Character, who is one of the recipients of a house we have purchased to get him out of a "boarding home". We can purchase a home, boy I wish we could purchase more and I know we will when God sees that we are good stewards of what he has given us already. I met Mohamed & Todd many times, but at Christmas while caroling at his home for another Fm friend, he touched my heart. We have since become great friends. He's close to my age, trying to be something more in his life. He's made mistakes, like we all have, now he's adjusting to someone giving him a second chance. He's amazingly gracious, and wonders why him? i don't know the real reason, except God has shown me the way. This house was intended for James, but God closed that door, allowing me to see, James wasn't trustworthy or ready for a changed life by Gods' standard. So the house closed on us, James showed his fanny, as we all do in time, we let the house go only to be offered it once a gain to give to another soul who admittedly deserves a second chance. If I had more money...I'd likely give it all away..so I must be patient.
What did I see in Mohamed & Todd? First it was gratitude for nothing, just that we stopped by. They needed food but never asked, we just(I) felt called to go back and give. Over time we developed a friendship, and we began to spend time together, looking for ways to improve their lives. I helped him move his fathers belongings, again he was grateful. He is lighthearted at times, and emotional at others, he's always thanking God, he teaches me so much and recognizes when I'm pushing for more honesty and strength. Todd is quiet, and he says people think I'm dumb..."I'm not.". He's far from dumb, I asked him questions about his life one day and he told me many heartfelt comments, how he missed his father, who died at Thanksgiving...he shared with me one day How he purchased life insurance for himself in the likely hood he would die young, he got for his brother in case he didn't have money for his funeral...What I said..Who does that? He's a little younger than Mohamed but so excited to move out, into a home of his own, that he can care for without the excuse of a landlord who is in it just for the money. It can be his... no one to answer to but he and his roommate.
What I love about what I am doing now, is its causing me to listen more for God, His stories of love and promise from those individuals whose only hope is God...I have much to learn. Mohamed prays a lot around me, i love that, it reminds me to be so much thankful to God for what He is doing in my life.
Yesterday..my mother said..."You hang around so much sadness. How do you do it?" MY answer to her, a non Christian, is "I couldn't be happier!" God brings me so much joy everyday just by throwing myself into what I see as my purpose, a voice and a lover of the unlovely, the unheard, social inequality...I want to fight for someone....Most of all...Glorifying God it what He is doing in my life. I can't wait until next Friday..closing day for Mohamed and Todd. One last note, The "guys"need so much for their home, I went out on a risky limb, asking for big ticket tiems, washer mower fridge...linens, beds, dressers, dishes....you name it...in 24 hours...I had it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God is so wonderful, and to put so many loving hearts in my path...I am full today..and can't wait for a back yard BBQ!
God is good.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Haiti Disater Relief-Mission 2010

Heading to Haiti in the Middle of the week, in the Middle of the night...tensions are palpable. 20 member team,16 have never been to Haiti, 3 teens with a parent, 3 college students, one young adult, three mid thirties, couple of middle age, several...older than 50...diversity with age and ethnicity as well. It was a amazing selection of a group, as if it was pulled for a research study for the APA.
We went to help Earthquake victims we hoped...And so we did. We could feel the tension in the city with those who are hungry, those who are not being served because the govt is afraid. There are tent villages everywhere, there is missionary presence no where. We stayed a week in the suburbs of two different cities, Cite Solie and Terra Norre, never once saw the military, never once saw a second group of missionaries giving our aid, never once saw anyone willing to give of them selves. Even the Haitians won't help each other, it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. Where is the human spirit of kindness and compassion gone? Where is the barn raising feelings of you help me, we'll help you...it's like America...I've got mine...best of luck to ya'.
The children however are amazing, they literally outworked most of us, for a hug for a jolly rancher for a slim jim for a swallow of American water. We should all be so ashamed, witnessing before us slave trade labor, "I'll work for food." While Haitians able bodies watched as if they were watching a train wreck...but the minute we handed out food to our sweet workers, there are their hands. I could get bitter and angry...I'm not, just disappointed in Gods people who are defeated in a society that apparently very few care about. Where is the Red Cross? Where is UNICEF? Where are those helping the 400,000 living in tent cities, being rained on two nights in a row while I was there....anticipating "The Rainy Season". I've camped one w/e in the "rainy season" it was enough to make me come unglued..and head out of the rainy season.
We worked daily to improve lives by building on home completely, move in ready for one family, change for a life time, joy realized by touching the lives of a family that will go on for ever. We removed the earthquake ruins of two home by the time we left, so now two families will begin rebuilding upon our departure. We left enough money to complete one additional home for yet another family, tricking-ling the benefits of our money onward. We handed out food for those who helped us work daily at our sights, children mostly while so many Haitians teens watched as they would watch a car wreck. Disappointing at times to see the unwavering and unwillingness of people not wanting to help those who have the benefits of American help.
We handed out jolly ranchers, super balls, slim jims, discreetly handing gallon size bags of food to families starving, graciously accepting and giving thanks to God. There is so much to be done, and so little people to help, makes me wonder daily are we doing all we can. Can a few individuals really make a difference? Jesus started off with 12 disciples, I believe Yes...we can make a difference, we just must remain focused on the needs of others and not on ourselves. True giving of ourselves as Jesus teaches us in His Word.
The week ended all too quickly, and our team quickly dissolved into the "American" resolve to get back home, "It's hot, I'm getting eaten alive, I'm tired of beans and rice, I'd do it differently if I led, I have only two outfits to wear, we are running out of water, did you bring band aids, when are we leaving, how much longer, why can't we throw them dollars? I only want to give them two dollars not three,..." The list goes on, could we really be put in a situation where we are uncomfortable for a lifetime, or is it just best to give of ourselves if we aren't asked to be uncomfortable? We have a lot to learn, we have miles to go...but I am grateful to have taken a team of 20 to show them true poverty, true discomfort, the privileged of clean drinking water everyday, a floor with a real structure.
How are you willing to give...are you willing to go without for the betterment our our brothers and sisters in Christ who need us? Only you can say...Jesus says..."I am willing."..Me too. I pray to give more, to have less, to stretch myself beyond my borders and my own comfort zone...I want to stand for something..Oppression among His people. A voice for those who cannot speak. July 21-28 we return to Haiti, will you go?